May 13th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

Gas rig sinks off coast of Venezuela, government says

Venezuelan government officials said Thursday they are investigating why a natural gas rig sank off the nation's coast in the early morning hours, the state-run energy company said.

All 95 workers on board were rescued and no gas leaks were detected because safety valves cut off the flow, said the company, Petroleos de Venezuela, also known as PDVSA.

The Aban Pearl platform, in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Sucre state, started to list at 11:23 p.m. Wednesday, PDVSA said on its website. An inspection of the four support columns detected massive flooding and an evacuation was started, the company said.

The captain and two engineers stayed aboard until the rig listed to 45 degrees and then also evacuated, PDVSA said.

No environmental damage occurred, the company said.

The rig was extracting natural gas from a well called Dragon 6, which was immediately sealed, PDVSA said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke the news of the rig's sinking on his Twitter account, @Chavezcandanga.

"With sorrow I inform you that the gas platform Aban Pearl sank a few moments ago," Chavez wrote around 3 a.m. "The good news is that the 95 workers are safe."

He posted another tweet a few minutes later that said, "They were evacuated and at this moment two patrol boats from our Navy are moving to the area. We will go forward and will TRIUMPH. Viva VENEZUELA."

The rig workers were picked up by the tanker Petro Saudi Discover and were transported to land, some by helicopter. Four of the workers appeared later Thursday at a briefing on the incident broadcast by the government-owned VTV station.

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Filed under: Venezuela
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Tom

    220,090,122

    May 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JfromTexas

    Brian, this was not a "brand new" rig. It was built then delivered in 1977. Once again lets remember to check our facts before trying to criticize others.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    This is all less harmful than lets say...an Asteroid Impact. So ppl need to relax, get the mess cleaned up and move on.
    BTW...Oil Must Die!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Floridafish

    Xception, BP did have a few hours warning. The pressure tests failed on BP Horizon hours before the rig blew up, so you fail in comprehension. They should have STOPPED all work on Horizon after that test failed. Why didn't they? Money is why, and that doesn't take logic to understand, just common sense.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jessica

    Jose Ramon, probably you are talking about Colombia, a country with a civilian war for more than a half a century, with million of people killed or murdered by the Uribe government, where farmers and students are killed and buried alike.
    Because as far as I know Venezuela has free hospitals, free medicines, free education, free doctors everywhere.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SL

    From BP's website:

    We are the largest non-US company on the New York Stock Exchange.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    Chavez? Ha! Who knows? The hole may have gone dry anyway. Sink the rig and gain brownie points. Who knows again? Maybe it is lagitamit that it sank, but to take Chavez's word is him saying "Try it you'll like it." I'll wait and see what an independent party has to say.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dub

    Well, Obama did his job so Chavez had to one up him. What's next?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jessica

    Norway and Venezuela are the only two countries which require the installation of the blow up valve and an extra security valve. I guess we need to hire venezuelans technicians in order to operate our Gulf rigs..at least they have been operating them since 1930....they have far more experience than we do.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. capnmike

    Why did it sink>???...for exactly the same reasons PDVSA , and indeed the country of Venezuela itself, are sinking...governmental stupidity, corrupt "socialism", and lack of maintenance.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. capnmike

    Please STOP BUYING CITGO!!!! Your Dollars are going to support Chavez's dictatorship.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lenny b. oilfield trash

    been ther and done that in venezuela since chavez took over. from what i know and have seen, i would bet anybodies paycheck this was planned so he can throw the BS and S### back in the faces of big business and the USA. i cannot believe this just happened like it did so soon after the BP incident. nothing happened after the incident in brazil a few years ago.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jessica

    I buy at CITGO just because they are helping the poor Alaskan natives with free heating oil...something Palin or any other oil company has never done. Thanks Chavez...we love you from Alaska!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jessica

    Capnmike= gusano cubano

    May 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JC

    Chuck Norris must have sneezed in the general direction of Venezuela.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
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